'Empire' will go 1 more season, Smollett's future is unclear

NEW YORK -- "Empire" will return for its final season this fall on Fox - with Jussie Smollett a question mark - and should count itself lucky.

Fox, the lowest-rated network among the big four broadcasters, is hitting the reset button for the 2019-20 season by canceling eight shows and adding 10 new ones.

"Empire" companion drama "Star" is among the goners as the network makes room for an eclectic mix of wrestling, two new animated comedies and a "9-1-1" spinoff starring Rob Lowe.

"We are turning the final season of 'Empire' into a large television event," Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier told a teleconference Monday. "One of the great benefits of announcing a final season is that you actually allow the fans to lean in and have the ending they deserve."

Collier dodged questions about Smollett's future with the show after the actor was accused of staging an attack in which he said two masked men beat him, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, doused him with a chemical substance and put a rope around his neck. Criminal charges were dropped but the uproar has yet to subside, making Smollett a continued publicity liability for Fox.

When pressed, Collier said there is an option to include him in the series "but at this point we have no plans for that."

As for "Star," which had been paired on the schedule with "Empire," it fell victim to Fox's prime-time schedule, which is an hour shorter per night than the other networks, Collier said. The network also wanted to give "Empire" a strong send-off by pairing it with returning medical drama "The Resident," he said.

Fox was split from sibling studio 20th Century Fox Television after Walt Disney Co. purchased the studio and other major assets of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. But Collier, in a strenuously upbeat statement, said today "marks a beginning for Fox Entertainment" as it works with a variety of studios for its new shows.

"Fox is not only open for business but we feel like we're stronger than ever," Collier said.

Previous coverage:

RELATED: Judge asked to recuse himself from petition to appoint special prosecutor in Jussie Smollett case
RELATED: Jussie Smollett's contract extended, no plans for character to return to 'Empire'
RELATED: Osundairo brothers file defamation lawsuit against Jussie Smollett's attorneys
RELATED: Kim Foxx receives death threats after Jussie Smollett charges dropped
RELATED: Kim Foxx's chief spokesperson resigns from State's Attorney's Office
RELATED: 2 top staffers leaving Kim Foxx's State's Attorney's Office
RELATED: Jussie Smollett update: Kim Foxx's texts and emails raise more questions about recusal
Kim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled
RELATED: Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled

RELATED: City sues Jussie Smollett for cost of investigating alleged staged attack
RELATED: Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx lets Derrion Albert killer off the hook
RELATED: Kim Foxx says 'this is personal' about calls for her to resign
RELATED: Jussie Smollett attorney responds to Chicago's civil suit threat
RELATED: Taraji P. Henson weighs in on 'Empire' co-star Jussie Smollett's case
RELATED: Chicago to file civil suit against 'Empire' actor for not paying $130K cost of police investigation
RELATED: In wake of Jussie Smollett, suburban police chiefs take no confidence stance against State's Attorney Kim Foxx
RELATED: Jussie Smollett case leads to protests for, against Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx
Copyright © 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.